Friday, October 26, 2007

Zionists Against the Train of Liberalism

Over at Angry Arab I came across an interview by a relatively right-wing Zionist.

Every morning, when I read the papers and see that Jordanian King Abdullah II is healthy and Mubarak is still alive, I know we've earned another day. I live with the sense that one day we will wake up to the news of a coup in Jordan and Egypt. And woe is the day when insane Islam takes over those two countries. In other words, in spite of everything he does, Mubarak is still among our friends. He's also got problems.

... ... ...

That statement caused a huge stir at the time, and it's amazing to see how many dozens of angry, ignorant responses I continue to receive from leftists in Israel and anti-Semites abroad, who took my words out of context. I didn't recommend that we kill Palestinians. I said we'll have to kill them.

... ... ...

[Q. What about Fatah? Is it any less bent on destroying Israel than Hamas?]

No. But neither are Israeli Arabs any different in that respect. No Palestinian wants us here. No Muslim wants us here. No Arab wants us here.

It seems obvious that a large number of supporters of Israel know what that support entails. They understand that the over 100 million Arabs in neighboring countries have to live under corrupt and brutal dictatorships to reduce the threat they pose to Israel. They support that knowing what it is for the same types of reasons reasonable people in 1840 supported the continuation of slavery.

But history, at least since the beginning of the 1800s. seems to be a continuous trail of liberal victories over conservatives. Universal male suffrage, then universal suffrage. The end of slavery, the end of most vestiges of European colonialism. Child labor laws.

The role of the conservative seems to have been to say, OK, everything the liberals have said up to now was right, but now they're wrong. Two generations later, different conservatives say exactly the same thing about different issues.

I'm working on my answer, in my own mind, to the question of what is going wrong with Zionism. One reason Zionism is still here when there are no other remaining state-ideological vestiges of the European age of expansion is the embarrassing ineffectiveness of Arab monarchs and dictators.

But even that may be a symptom of a deeper problem being that religious adherents have not mixed well with the liberal side of the West. Opponents of Apartheid had a freedom, in their independence from religion, to form bonds with western liberals that opponents of Zionism aren't able to make.

Islam swept West to and including Spain, but there were no industrial societies in its way. Ending Zionism may be task that religion, even Islam, is not equipped to undertake.

Another possible explanation is that Western liberalism is far more closely tied to Jews as a population that it was to Afrikaaners or people who personally identified with Afrikaaners in South Africa. Many western Jewish liberals just abandon liberalism on the subjects of Israel and Zionism. The remainder of the western liberal coalition is less capable in their absence. If not for this factor, it is imaginable that the uselessness and ineffectiveness of the surrounding Arab countries could have been overcome by now.

Of the two explanations I've presented, poor leadership of the Arab world - possibly tied to the religious nature of the leaderships and their societies - and the less effective liberal coalition in the West that effectively opposes Zionism, I think its most likely that both factors together are necessary to explain how Zionism has persisted as an ideological movement for as long as it has.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said time is neutral. It isn't on anyone's side inherently. It is so tempting though, nearly 50 years later to add segregation to slavery on a list of issues that some cosmic force that favors liberals was destined to solve. Then to add Apartheid to that list and to add Zionism to that list.

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